Friday, August 31, 2012

Reflection: Monotropism and Music

I understand the kind of pleasure that music gives: a pleasure that's built on emotion and repetition. I don't always quite grasp the notion of pleasure in variety.

I was writing to a friend and lamenting some of those same issues I talked about in "Making Sense of Monotropism":  The odd phenomenon of experiencing repetition and momentum as pleasure... and failing to experience it normally in novelty.

"You know what can be more difficult than two hours at a job I don't like?  Two hours at a movie.  If I am with someone I am attached to, it's no problem.  I can sit there and listen to them breathe.  That will keep me amused. So what if there's a movie going on in the background? It's okay. I can handle that it's there. I just won't... watch it."

He said he had a hard time focusing on most movies because they were "formula crock". (No, I didn't change the vocabulary there.)

Something was similar on the surface -- but something was opposite.  My response:

"You don't like formulaic crock? :)  Hmmm.  Formulaic crock is repetitive, but not repetitive enough for me. They change the characters and stuff from one formulaic movie to the next, yes?  I know they change the scenes.  So it's not repetitive to anywhere near the level that a song is repetitive. 

It takes so much time to get in-depth into... oh, caring about the plot and characters, I guess is part of it. I just can't focus much of my attention on it until I do.  But then sometimes I do kind of... by the time it's over.  So then I'd rather see the same one over again than see a new one! I am not the only person to experience that.  But I've known people to explain the phenomena from the outside and explain it in a way that doesn't fit my experience. In my experience it has nothing to do with wanting the world to have a safe, predictable structure.  Predictability, yes, is a part of it, but it's for the sake of pleasure, not safety.  Most people have some understanding of that type of pleasure -- music is based partly on predictability and repetition.  It can evoke pleasure on just a straight neural level when a word rhymes with one in the line before. And when the refrain... repeats.  And it can get even better after you know the song!  

But most people, most of the time, outside of a few little things like music,associate pleasure with novelty. That's one area where it's hard for me to understand the world.  And vice versa."